(1996 - present)
History and photos of the volcano-themed Rainforest Cafe restaurant and store in the Marketplace at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World.
In the Summer of 1996, the exotic and highly themed Rainforest Cafe opened in the Marketplace at Downtown Disney.
It's hard to miss the volcano-themed restaurant sitting on the shore of Village Lake in the Marketplace. Whether it's the waterfalls running down the mountain, the oversized jungle theming surrounding the building, or even the animatronic animals inside and outside of the building, the Rainforest Cafe is very enticing to visitors. When seeing the structure you want to explore the building and see what else it waiting inside of it.
Rainforest Cafe is a national chain of jungle-themed restaurants. Walt Disney World happens to have two separate Rainforest Cafe restaurants --- a volcano-themed version in the Marketplace at Downtown Disney, and a waterfall-themed restaurant outside the entrance gates at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. Rainforest Cafe is actually owned by Landry's Restaurants, a company that also owns the very similar and highly themed T-Rex Cafe, also in the Marketplace at Downtown Disney.
The inside of Rainforest Cafe is divided between the full-service restaurant, a bar, and a massive store selling everything related to the rain forest from stuffed animals to clothes to games to decorations. Separating the restaurant from the store is a really cool aquarium filled with tropical fish. Throughout the restaurant and store are a bunch of animatronic animals that occasionally move and make sounds. Every once in a while a "thunderstorm" strikes the Rainforest Cafe, dimming the lights, rumbling the building with sounds of thunder, and making the animals go wild.
The Rainforest Cafe in the Marketplace went through a massive refurbishment in the Summer of 2012. The store and restaurant were still open for business, but the exterior was completely re-built with a more updated look. The parrots were permanently removed from their home outside of the restaurant. In the store, the most noticeable change from the refurbishment is that the cave with glow-in-the-dark items has been removed.
The new version of Rainforest Cafe still carries the volcano theme, but this time the mountain is much more menacing. The rocky volcano vents steam, it oozes lava, and every so often there's a volcanic eruption that sends fireballs high into the sky! The robotic alligator has also returned, and like the more sinister version of the mountain, this alligator is much more fierce and intimidating. Needless to say, the new exterior of Downtown Disney's Rainforest Cafe is an awesome spectacle and definitely a must-see when visiting the shopping center.
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